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THE CONNECTICUT LOYALISTS 

At the beginning of the War for American Independence Con- 
necticut occupied a phenomenal position in the political hemisphere. 
For nearly a century and a half she had been an independent 
republic dc facto. In her ability to govern herself she stood pre- 
eminent among her sister colonies of the Revolutionary period. 
Her treatment of threatening internal ills — of Toryism 1 in particular 
— was prophylactic in character at the outset ; in truth, throughout 
the entire great struggle, tory-germs of civil disorder were rarely 
suffered to develop beyond the embryo. 

The party of the Loyalists was not lacking in men whose 
principles command respect. Of this class was he whose con- 
servatism led him honestly to fear anarchy and confusion as a result 
of the so-called " experiment" in popular self-government. But it 
may be questioned why even such a man should have been found a 
" Non-Associator " in the stable little republic, whose people had gov- 
erned themselves wisely and well for more than a hundred years. 2 
Unlike his brethren of other provinces, he was not to be frightened 
at the alternative presented where there was no legislature ; where 
royal governors, after subverting assemblies, had themselves ab- 
dicated their authority ; where the " officious and offensive " grasped 
the reins of government, for which, it was urged, "they could ad- 
duce the laws of neither God nor man." 3 This plea was not valid 
in Connecticut. She had not then, and had never had, demagogues 
at the head of her affairs. 

"In no state in the world," observes President Dwight, "was 
an individual of more importance as a man than in Connecticut. 
Such a degree of freedom was never before united with such a de- 

1 "Probably no one of the thirteen original states was as active, alert and efficient 
in the restraint of Tories during the war, as our own state of Connecticut." Jonathan 
Trumbull, in Year-Book (1895-6) of the Connecticut Sous of the American Revolution, 
1 83. Cf. Sanford's Connecticut, 222. 

2 The Connecticut pioneers were firm believers in representative democracy. "By 
a free choice,''' said Hooker, " the hearts of the people will be more inclined to the love 
of the persons chosen, and more ready to yield obedience." Notes to Hooker's Sermon 
(May 31, 1638). Cf. The 250th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Constitution, pub- 
lished in January 1889 by the Connecticut Historical Society, p. 45. 

3 Cf. Dr. G. E. Ellis's " The Loyalists and their Fortunes," in Winsor's America, 
VII. 191. 

( 2 73) 



274 G. A. Gilbert 

gree of stability ; or so much individual consequence in all the mem- 
bers of a community with such cheerful and uniform obedience to 
its laws. Few places in the world," he believes, "presented a fairer 
example of peace and good order." x 

The outbreak of hostilities brought no upheaval here in the 
leadership of affairs. The governor and both branches of the 
legislature worked together in harmony, and, being chosen by the 
freemen themselves, were enabled to legislate favorably to the popu- 
lar will. The people understood their privileges, were strongly at- 
tached to their ancient constitution, and defended it at all times. 
They regarded it as their native, indefeasible right to be subject to 
no laws except those made by their own representatives. Their 
bitterest detractor, Rev. Samuel Peters, says, satirically, that " the 
multitude considered their General Assembly to be equal to the 
British Parliament." He admits that " they were empowered to 
make laws in Church and State agreeable to their own will and 
pleasure, without the King's approbation." 2 

The constitution 3 had been formed and adopted by the freemen 
in person, as early as January 1639 ; acceded to and ratified, twenty- 
three years later, by the liberal charter of Charles II. Extensive 
powers were vested in their own elected governor and council ; yet 
so jealous were the people of their liberty that, if the former failed 
to call the legislature after being petitioned by the freemen, then 
the constables of the several towns were to convoke the legislature, 
which body could choose a moderator to act as governor, and the 
body thus formed had all legislative authority. Such an emergency, 
however, never arose : the governor and members of the assembly 
had all served their apprenticeship at town meetings, had held some 
town office, and, proving satisfactory, had been promoted to their 
respective positions. They were themselves from and of the people, 
and appreciated the people's needs. So pervasive was the demo- 
cratic spirit that even the negroes of the colony (who, in 1 774, num- 
bered about six thousand) had become infected, and for several 
years elected their governor annually — continuing to do so for a 
time, it is said, after the close of the war. Not to be outdone by 
their masters the blacks treated their sable executive with profound 
respect, and he never failed to receive the honorable title of "Gov- 
ernor" when addressed by any of his colored constituents. 

'Dwight's Travels, I. 196, 285-286. 

2 In the Charter of 1662, Charles II. retained no veto power. 

3 " It is worthy of note that this document contains none of the conventional refer- 
ences to a ' dread sovereign ' or a ' gracious King,' nor the slightest allusion to the British 
or any other government outside of Connecticut itself." Fiske's Beginnings of New 
England, 127-128. Neither was there any mention made of the English company, hold- 
ing a patent of the land. 



The Connecticut Loyalists 275 

At the beginning of the war there were six counties and seventy- 
two townships in the state. Each county had its sheriff and judges, 
built and repaired its own court-houses and jails, and taxed itself for 
that purpose. Every town had its three or more selectmen (fre- 
quently seven), two or more justices of the peace, two or more con- 
stables, town clerk, town treasurer, surveyors of highways (some- 
times a score in number), fence-viewers, listers, collectors of taxes, 
leather-sealers, grand jurors, tithingmen, hay-wards, chimney- 
viewers, gaugers, packers, sealers of weights and measures, key- 
keepers, recorders of " sheep-marks," etc. Including state, county 
and town officials there were at least three thousand men holding 
public office in the state, each of whom had sworn to do his duty 
conformably to its constitution and laws. The selectmen were the 
executive officers of the town, and, like all others, were elected an- 
nually at the town meetings by the voters themselves. 

These seventy-two townships were so many little republics, 1 
where, at the annual meetings, the people were early schooled in 
the art of self-government, and where they learned to protect them- 
selves from their enemies. Here their legislators and local officers 
first learned to do public business, and to do it peaceably and in 
good order. It was an old and established law that, if a person in- 
terrupted or disturbed the order, peace or proceedings of a town 
meeting, or hindered the choice of a moderator, or vilified him 
after being chosen, he should be subject to a fine. 2 None spoke 
without leave, and all without interruption. It was well understood, 
too, that it was for the general interest that every voter should at- 
tend. As early as 1702 an act was passed ordering town clerks to 
keep a list of all the freemen in each town, and at eveiy meeting the 
clerk or a constable was to call the roll. Absentees were to pay a 
fine of two shillings (collected by a constable and disposed for the 
use of the town), unless such delinquent could make it appear to 
the majority of the selectmen that his absence was unavoidable. 3 A 
large proportion of the people held public office at some time or 

1 " The most noteworthy feature of the Connecticut republic was that it was a feder- 
ation of independent towns, and that all attributes of sovereignty not expressly granted to 
the General Court remained, as of original right, in the towns." Fiske's Beginnings of 
JVnv England, 1 27-1 28. For opposing views, cf. The Beginnings of Connecticut 
Towns, by Professor Charles M. Andrews, in Annals of the American Academy of Polit- 
ical and Social Science, No. 7. 

2 Act of May 1729, in Colonial Records, VII. 245. 

3 Act of October 1702, in Colonial Records, IV. 398. In the Hartford town rec- 
ords of 1635, appears the following : "It is ordered that there shall be a set meeting of 
all the townsmen together the first Thursday in every month, by nine of the clock in the 
forenoon . . . and whosoever of them do not meet at the place and time set, shall for- 
feit 2s. 6d. for every default." 



276 G. A. Gilbert 

other, all were employed in promoting the general interests of so- 
ciety, and a general spirit of good neighborhood prevailed among 
all classes. Thus, to use the words of another : " The little federal 
republic silently grew until it became the strongest political structure 
on the continent." 1 

It will be perceived that, at the dawn of the American Revolu- 
tion, the exponent of anti-republican principles was bound to be 
accounted, in Connecticut, little less than a political monstrosity. 
Any person here at this period who held the opinion that the people 
were unable to govern themselves, was looked upon with a feeling 
akin to contempt by his fellow-citizens and treated accordingly. 
Unfortunately patriotic resentment subsequently led to excesses 2 in 
sporadic instances and probably caused, in the minds of some, appre- 
hensions as to the outcome of the popular movement. Others be- 
came "conservators of peace" solely because they feared the 
strength and resources of the British realm ; they believed that the 
colonies, already enjoying extensive privileges under her govern- 
ment, were needlessly and futilely seeking a separation. A few 
professed to be dissatisfied because the General Assembly was more 
arbitrary than the Parliament itself; while one economically-dis- 
posed individual boldly declared that the Continental Congress 
" ought to be punished for putting the country to so much cost 
and charge," for he believed " they did no more good than a parcel 
of squaws." 

But it will be found, on due investigation, that Toryism in Con- 
necticut was less secular than sectarian in character ; that it was 
chiefly the outgrowth of jealousies and fears begot by strong reli- 
gious prejudices. The determined opposition on the part of the 
people and their representatives (who were mostly Congregational- 
ists) to the introduction into the province of Episcopacy with a for- 
eign prelacy induced the body of the Churchmen to embrace the 
cause of the Crown, believing that only in the event of success to 
the British arms could they, as the weaker party, hope for encour- 

'Fiske's New England, 128. 

2 In one or two instances some irresponsible persons took the law into their own 
hands and perpetrated acts not sanctioned by the better class of Whigs. In Simsbury 
one Tory was shot for being found beyond his own premises — after having been 
"warned." Another was publicly hanged in Hartford, and the gallows left standing to 
intimidate other Tories. Phelps, Newgate of Connecticut, 28. In Windham, two men, 
known as " Peters's Spies," who had been arrested for conveying treacherous correspond- 
ence, were forced to run the gauntlet between two rows of women and children armed 
with switches and broom-sticks. Larned's Windham County, II. 136. For the treat- 
ment of the notorious Churchman, Rev. Samuel Peters, cf. id., II. 133-136. Rev. Mr. 
Learning, the Fpiscopal clergyman at Norwalk, was also the victim of a gross outrage at 
the hands of a "lawless mob." Cf. Beardsley's History of the Episcopal Church in 
Connecticut, I. 316 (Boston, 1865). 



The Connecticut Loyalists 277 

agement and permanent religious security — an alternative, in which 
ecclesiastical principles prevailed over the sentiments of the patriot. 
Moreover, the score of Episcopal clergymen here were stipendiaries 
of the English Missionary Society. Hence, unlike many of their 
brethren at the South, 1 (who generally derived support from those 
to whom they ministered), they " conceived the measures of the 
colonies to be unwise, if not unjust, and destined to end either in de- 
feat or ruin on the one hand, or the overthrow of the Church on 
the other." As faithful " Missionaries " they deemed it a moral 
obligation, imposed upon them by their oath of allegiance taken at 
the time of their ordination, to pray for, and give homage to their 
" Most gracious Sovereign Lord, King George, and the Royal 
Family." Through frequent observance of this rubrical formula 
and respect for pastoral injunctions, the laity of the church became, 
in turn, duly and piously impressed with the divine rights of the 
King and the sanctity of his royal prerogative. So eminent an ad- 
vocate and historian of the Church as Dr. Eben Beardsley believes, 
that " it speaks well for the influence and Christian character of the 
Episcopal clergy [in Connecticut,] that their congregation so gen- 
erally sympathized with them in their views both of religious and 
civil duties ;" that " they inculcated upon their members, both from 
the pulpit and in private conversation, a peaceful submission to the 
King and to the parent state ;" that " they were fearless in avowing 
and vindicating what they conceived to be not only the essential 
rights of the British Crown, but the essential interests of their 
venerated communion ;" that, as a consequence, the Churchmen 
throughout the colony " espoused for the most part the cause of 
the mother country, and thereby showed themselves loyal sub- 
jects of the King." Out of 130 families who attended divine ser- 
vice in his two churches, Rev. Richard Mansfield of Derby re- 
ported (December 29, 1775), no to be "firm, steadfast friends of 
the Government," having no sympathy with the popular measures 
and detesting the " unnatural rebellion." 2 

1 Episcopacy was more firmly established at the South ; being supported by the 
wealthy, the officials of government, army and naval officers, professional men and mer- 
chants. There was evidently some laxity of discipline, both clergy and laity opposing 
for temporary reasons the importation of English bishops. Not being pensioners of the 
foreign missionary society, the Southern clergy felt more free to share the patriotic senti- 
ments of the people ; and some of them, in truth, proved themselves ardent patriots by 
serving actively in the field. Cf. Perry's History of the American Episcopal Church, 
1587-1883, I., Chap. XXIV. 

2 Beardsley's History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, I. 306—339. Cf. 
Davis's Wallingford and Meriden, 248. Dr. Beardsley states that "there was just a 
score of clergymen of the Church of England in Connecticut at the outbreak of hostil- 
ities," all but two of whom were natives of the colony. 



278 G. A. Gilbert 

Judging from the census of 1774 there were in that year twenty- 
five thousand 1 males in Connecticut between the ages of sixteen and 
fifty, and of these about two thousand were Tories — most of them 
in the western part of the state, especially in Fairfield county. 2 This 
marked localization of Loyalist sentiment west of the Housatonic 
river has been commonly attributed to " the remoteness of this part 
of the colony from Boston and its almost exclusive trade with New 
York." 3 But while this may explain satisfactorily why the distant 
section did not participate so strongly " in the incipient spirit of the 
Revolution," it does not adequately account for the prevalence of 
Toryism per se ; for which organic social ill some more subtle moral 
agency will be suspected, and the essential facts are not wanting to 
prove such suspicion well-grounded. 

It was a common apprehension in Connecticut prior to the Revo- 
lution that the growth of the English Church was hostile to civil 
and religious liberty and favorable to the ultimate establishment of a 
" monarchical government with a legally associated hierarchy." In 
consequence of this general alarm, a " Convention of Delegates " of 
Congregational divines from all parts of the colony appointed, at 
their annual meeting, a committee to investigate the subject. Act- 
ing as their agent, the Rev. Elizur Goodrich of Durham made an 
" accurate and toilsome collection of statistics " relative to the num- 
ber of Episcopalians in Connecticut and their proportion to Non- 
Episcopalians. In closing his report, 4 September 5, 1774, Mr. Good- 
rich makes the Episcopalians about one in thirteen of the total 
number of inhabitants. But, says Dr. Beardsley, " nowhere in the 
colony, according to his estimates, was the church so strong as in 
Fairfield county, where it embraced about one-tldrd of the people ;" 5 
while at Newtown — the hot-bed of Toryism — there was found an 
equal division (" 1084 in either case "). Rev. John Beach, pastor in 

1 In Records of Connecticut Men in the War of the Revolution, 27,823 different 
names are indexed, and it is thought that 30,000 may have served. See p. xi. 

2 The principal Loyalist towns were Newtown and Redding. From a " Memorial to 
the General Council of Safety" (February, 1778), signed by the selectmen of Redding, 
it appears that 49 Tories in that town had " gone over the enemy ; " that 28 Whigs were 
serving in the Continental Army; and that 112 "able-bodied men" were left. The 
Churchmen of Newtown were, in 1779, the major part of the population ; and the Tories 
slightly outnumbered the Whigs. 

3 Hinman's Connecticut in the American Revolution, 18. 

4 Minutes of the Convention of Delegates from the Synod of New York and Phila- 
delphia, and Associations of Connecticut, 1766—1715, p. 62, Appendix, (Hartford, 
1843.) After 1763, the English bishops incessantly pressed upon the ministry the adop- 
tion of Archbishop Seeker's scheme of introducing an Episcopal hierarchy into America, 
which would have carried with it some of the worst features of the prerogative. Gra- 
hame's History of the United States, IV. 138. 

5 Beardsley' s History of the Episcopal Church in Connecticut, I. 289. 



The Connecticut Loyalists 279 

this latter town and one of the most energetic Loyalists in the state, 
continued the public exercise of his ministerial functions 1 throughout 
the war, protesting " that he would do his duty, preach and pray 
for the King till the Rebels cut out his tongue." He also pre- 
sided over the church in East Redding, and was instrumental in 
organizing the famous "Association of Loyalists" at that place. 
Near the close of the war (October 31, 1 78 1 ), he penned an exultant 
epistle to the secretary of the " Home Society " that " Newtown and 
the Church-of- England part of Redding were, he believed, the only 
parts of New England that had refused to comply with the doings 
of Congress." 3 While it is evident, therefore, that of the Loyalists 
throughout the colony the churchmen of Fairfield county consti- 
tuted a majority, nevertheless there were some who did not venture 
to become, like certain of their pastors, conspicuously active in 
their opposition to popular measures, and they may, perhaps, with 
some propriety be classed among the so-called " conservators of 
peace." 

Patriotic spirit kindled to a blaze in Connecticut in the summer 
of 1 774. Every loyal citizen was filled with indignation over the 
unjust treatment of his friends in Massachusetts. Special meetings 
were held in nearly every town, at which resolutions were passed 
censuring the Boston Port Bill ; the timid and ignorant were in- 
formed of their rights and grievances ; committees of correspondence 
were appointed, " Sons of Liberty" organized, and " liberty poles" 
erected throughout the state. Rigorous measures were speedily 

1 His brother pastors had discontinued their public prayers by vote of the Convention 
at New Haven, July 23, 1 776. 

In concluding his letter of October 31, 1781, Mr. Beach wrote : " I do most heartily 
thank the Venerable Society for their liberal support, and beg that they will accept this, 
which is, I believe, my last bill, viz., ^325, which, according to former custom, is due." 
During the war, says Dr. Beardsley, (I. 318), "a generous collection, by royal order, 
was made in England and sent to be distributed among the score of Missionaries in Con- 
necticut." The latter "were not disposed," adds he, (336), "to forfeit their stipends 
from the English Society . . . while the struggle was still undecided, and the prospects for 
the colonists so doubtful." "If there were a few instances," says he, (339). "where 
the flocks were more patriotic than their pastors, the reason for this might he found in 
the difference of their relations to the Society." 

2 In the autumn of 1775 the selectmen and principal inhabitants of Newtown were pre- 
vailed upon to give a bond, with a large pecuniary penalty inserted, not to take up arms 
against the colonies, as well as not to discourage enlistments into the American forces. 

Ridgefield, by vote of her town meeting, December 1774, had also protested against 
the acts of the Continental Congress. She fell heartily into line the succeeding year, 
however (December 1775), and appointed her Committee of Inspection, composed of 
twenty-six members. Rev. Epenetus Townsend was pastor of the English Church in 
this place ; and it is a significant fact that, though many members of his flock were 
prominent villagers, but one of them is mentioned anywhere in the town or state records 
as having participated in the patriotic movement, local or otherwise. See list of church 
members in Teller's Ridgefield, 113-127. 



280 G. A. Gilbert 

adopted to search for and crush out the noxious spirit of disaffec- 
tion. Yet, except in a few aggravated cases, the Tories were at 
first treated merely as social outlaws. The following resolution of 
the people of Coventry is a fair sample of most of the others passed 
at this time : to wit, " We view with grief , and detestation those un- 
natural enemies of our constitution, from amongst ourselves ; those 
vile anathemas, who, from motives selfish and servile, to court arbi- 
trary promotion, or servilely to cringe to despotic sway, are afford- 
ing their aid and assistance to, and co-operating with the ministerial 
tools of arbitrary power : (they) are unworthy of that friendship and 
esteem which constitutes the bond of social happiness, and ought 
to be treated with contempt and total neglect." 1 

It was soon found that resolutions of this kind were likely to 
prove inadequate. The battle of Lexington had not yet been 
fought, it is true, but it was deemed expedient, in view of a prob- 
able war, to know how each man stood affected : whether his feel- 
ings were enlisted in the liberal cause, or whether he secretly disap- 
proved of rebellion against British authority. One of the most 
effectual preventives of an incipient Toryism at this time, was ad- 
ministered through Committees of Inspection, appointed at town 
meetings in all parts of the state. These were a body of representa- 
tive men, fifteen to thirty 2 in number, from each town, who usually 
met at the court house for the ostensible purpose, it is said, " to 
take effectual care that the acts of the Continental Congress, held at 
Philadelphia, September 5, 1774, be absolutely and bona fide ad- 
hered to." But it was as a committee of vigilance that their chas- 
tening influence was more specifically felt. If any individual fell 
under the suspicion of the people, (and this was of daily occur- 
rence), "the Committee were immediately notified, and they forth- 
with repaired to the person and demanded an avowal of his 
sentiments." They instituted a patriotic and searching espionage 
into the principles, actions, and private affairs of every member of 
the community, without regard to station, profession, or character. 
If one was found to be lukewarm or indifferent, he was closely 
watched ; but, if a royalist in sentiment, he was forbidden to go be- 
yond the limits of his own farm, while in the meantime his name 

1 The several towns of Litchfield county (February 1775) recommended to the people 
of their county that ' ' all persons who endeavored by any means or ways to sow the seeds 
of discord, should be treated with that utter contempt that such criminals justly deserve." 
Cf. Hinman's Connecticut, 51. The people of Lebanon passed similar resolutions, as 
early as July 18, 1774. 

2 The Committee of Inspection of New London (appointed June 27, I774)_numbered 
thirty persons, any seven of whom constituted a quorum. Caulkins's New London, 503. 
In Hartford, the Committee had fifteen members. Cf. Trumbull's Hartford County, I. 
306. 



The Connecticut Loyalists 281 

was to be published conspicuously in capital letters on the first page 
of one or more of the four newspapers of the colony, thus : " PER- 
SONS HELD UP TO PUBLIC VIEW AS ENEMIES TO 
THEIR COUNTRY, J H ;" giving place of resi- 
dence, etc. 1 

The Committees of Inspection were subsequently recognized by 
the Governor and Assembly as being most efficient agents for re- 
straining insidious foes. They were not only considered equal in 
authority to the selectmen and civil officers of the town, but were 
legally qualified to issue warrants for arrest, etc. In this manner 
became early established a comprehensive police system, by which 
the whole state was kept constantly active for the detection of traitors. 
As the majority 2 of the members of the legislature were themselves 
Sons of Liberty and town-meeting men, they appreciated fully the 
necessity of co-operating with the local authorities in their efforts to 
stamp out this evil; and, in the spring of 1775, committees were 
appointed to investigate the various cases reported from the towns 
concerning suspected Tories. 3 In April, the Assembly passed an 
act recommending to the two hundred parish ministers of the colony, 
that the cause of liberty be favorably mentioned in their public 
prayers. 4 

In the fall of the year it was felt that more stringent measures 
were required : that, as the welfare of the people was jeoparded 
through the hostile influence of Tories, they, like other criminals, 
should be debarred from society. The Congress itself (October 6, 
1775), advised the several provincial assemblies "to arrest and se- 
cure every person, who, going at large, might in their opinion en- 
danger the safety of the colony or liberties of America." Washing- 
ton held strong views on the subject, and a month later expressed 
himself to Governor Trumbull, as follows : " Seize the Tories 
that are active ; they are preying on the vitals of the country and 

1 The four newspapers of the Revolutionary epoch, all strongly patriotic in senti- 
ment, were the Connecticut Gazette of New London, the Connecticut Courant of Hart- 
ford, the Connecticut Journal of New Haven, and the Norwich Packet. 

1 Col. Storrs, a member from the eastern section of the state, writes in his " Diary," 
April 27, 1775,—" Bad weather for Tories in the House; yet we have some." Lar- 
ned's Windham Comity, II. 148. 

3 A "Memorial" from Waterbury showed, that the "major part" of a militia com- 
pany of that town were thought to be " inimical ; " and the "true Whigs" prayed to be 
annexed to a new company. A committee of two was at once appointed to examine into 
the case and report at the next Assembly. Act of April 1775, in Colonial Records, XIV. 

433- 

4 Colonial Records, XIV. 434. At a parish meeting in New London it was put to 
vote, that no person be permitted to enter the church and act as pastor to it, unless he 
openly prays for Congress and the free and independent States of America, and their 
prosperity by sea and land. Caulkins's New London, 447. 

VOL. IV. — 19 



282 G. A. Gilbert 

will do all the mischief in their power." 1 That the governor was 
of the same opinion is evidenced in a letter written shortly afterward 
to his son Joseph, wherein he says : " It is of the utmost importance 
to secure the malignants in every colony, to prevent our enemy 
gaining any footing on the continent, or receiving supplies, assist- 
ance, or intelligence. Let us show a determination to enjoy liberty 
and freedom while we live, and not suffer hypocritical friends, who 
seek our ruin, to wheedle and cajole us." 2 

Both branches of the legislature were en rapport with the gov- 
ernor and Congress on this point, and at the special session held at 
Hartford, December 14, 1775, passed an act entitled, "an act for 
restraining and punishing persons inimical to the liberties of this and 
other of the united colonies." In order that the punishment should 
fit the crime, the Loyalists were divided into the following three 
general classes : 

1. Those who directly or indirectly supplied the enemy with 
provisions or military stores ; or gave or conveyed intelligence to 
the enemy ; or enlisted, procured or persuaded others to enlist, in 
the service of the enemy ; or took up arms against the colonies ; or 
undertook to pilot any vessel of the enemy ; or knowingly and wil- 
lingly aided the enemy in any other way whatsoever ; 

2. Those who by writing or speaking, or by any overt act, de- 
famed the resolves of Congress, or the acts or proceedings of the 
Assembly respecting their rights and privileges ; 

3. Those reported to the local authorities as "inimical." 

The Loyalist of the first class was to forfeit his estate, and to be 
imprisoned, the term not exceeding three years. He of the second 
class was to be disfranchised, could keep no arms, and serve in no 
civil or military capacity ; and, if thought necessary, he was to be 
imprisoned or fined, and to find surety of the peace as the court 
might order, and pay cost of prosecution. He of the third class 
must appear before the selectmen or Committee of Inspection of his 
town, by whom he would be disarmed until such time as he could 
prove his friendliness to the liberal cause ; and if he refused to be 
disarmed, the civil authorities could order the sheriff to call out the 
county militia for assistance. It was further enacted that, on infor- 
mation being made to the county court by the selectmen of any 
town that there were real estates in such town owned by any Loyal- 
ist of the first class, the said court should issue warrants and attach 
the property and place it in the care of some proper person to im- 

1 Washington to Trumbull (November 1775), in Stuart's Life of Trumbull, 220. 
Cf. Washington to Trumbull (January 7, 1776), in Ford's Washington, III. 324. 

2 For similar sentiments, see Deane to the Committee of Secret Correspondence 
(October I, 1776), in Wharton's Diplomatic Correspondence of the Revolution, II. 160. 



The Connecticut Loyalists 283 

prove it for the use of the colony, and account to the latter for the 
rents. The state treasurer was empowered to make sale of all such 
lands, either at public vendue or by private sale, as he judged would 
conduce most to the benefit of the colony, and to execute deeds ac- 
cordingly. 1 

Early in the ensuing year (January 2, 1776) Congress again 
recommended " the most speedy and effectual measures to frustrate 
the mischievous machinations and restrain the wicked practices of 
these men ;" that "they ought to be disarmed, the dangerous kept 
in safe custody, or bound with sureties for good behavior." Con- 
necticut had already lived fully up to this doctrine ; nevertheless 
complaints began to come in from the various towns, concerning the 
misdeeds of Tories who were still left at large. 2 The governor and 
council were not deaf to these memorials ; and, at the regular ses- 
sion held at Hartford June 14, 1776, it was enacted that the goods 
of every " inimical" person should be seized and sold for the benefit 
of the colony ; also, that he who owed such a person money, should 
be factorized by the selectmen for the benefit of the colony ; i. e., 
the debtor was to pay the selectmen, who would be compensated 
for their trouble and hand over to the state treasurer the various 
sums collected. If any individual said that he was not satisfied that 
the colony was justified in these measures, a committee was at once 
appointed to investigate his case, and if upon examination he proved 
to be " inimical," he was treated accordingly. 

The patriot nerve-of-distrust had now become morbidly sensi- 
tive, mere whisperings of Loyalist intrigue exciting general appre- 
hension. No slight commotion ensued at Hartford, therefore, when 
it was learned that the negro -governor Cuff (who had held his posi- 
tion for ten years) had recently resigned his high office, and, without 
waiting a general election, appointed as his successor John Ander- 
son — a black servitor of the elder Skene, governor of Crown Point 
and Ticonderoga. This latter prominent official had been arrested 
in June 1775, at Philadelphia, as a Loyalist, and sent by Congress 
to Connecticut, where, for the past year, he had resided with his 
family at West Hartford, a prisoner-at- large, under parole. It was 
feared that Governor Skene had, himself, manipulated the political 
wires, securing this appointment of his servant in order to gain per- 

1 Colonial Records, XV. ; and Hinman's Connecticut, 1 95- 196. 

2 The following extract is taken from the Connecticut Courant, of May 20, 1776. 
' ' A gang of Tories has been discovered in the neighborhood of Fairfield, taken and im- 
prisoned If these internal enemies are suffered to proceed in their hellish schemes, 

our ruin is certain ; but if they are destroyed, the power of Hell and Britain will never 
prevail against us. Rouse then, my countrymen, search out the nest of these vultures, 
a nd bring them to the punishment they merit. " 



284 G. A. Gilbert 

sonal influence over the blacks of the colony with reference to some 
future hostile movement. Governor Trumbull and the Council of 
Safety at once took the matter into solemn consideration and ap- 
pointed a committee of investigation, who, in turn, invoked con- 
stabulary aid. After a careful examination of Governor Skene's 
private papers, and taking the testimony of several witnesses, Hon. 
Jesse Root, chairman of the committee, submitted to the General 
Council (May 22, 1776) an elaborate and detailed report, to the 
effect, that Ex-Governor Cuff had been advised by some of his 
colored friends to resign in favor of Anderson ; that Governor 
Skene had given his servant a half-joe " to keep election ;" that the 
latter had, himself, expended the sum of £2^ in treating his would- 
be subjects ; and that two British officers had contributed fifty shil- 
lings toward defraying the expenses of a dance and entertainment. 
It was apparent to the Council that nothing of a very dangerous 
tendency had been discovered, and that the whole affair was, prob- 
ably, merely a compliment to the liberal New York negro from his 
admiring, but less affluent Connecticut brethren. The excitement 
attending this interesting though somewhat irregular election seems 
to have shortly blown over, and it is supposed that the new gov- 
ernor subsequently performed the duties of his office to the satis- 
faction of all concerned. 1 

Three months after independence was declared by Congress, Con- 
necticut became a state of the Union, when her legislature made 
the following characteristic announcement : " This Republic is, and 
shall forever be and remain, a free, sovereign and independent 
State, by the name of Connecticut." Henceforth (in accordance 
with an act passed by the Assembly, October 1776) any Loyalist of 
the first class found within her borders, would be convicted of high 
treason, and sentenced to death. At the same session it was fur- 
ther enacted, that if any one shall have knowledge of any persons 

1 Cf. Trumbull's Hartford County, I. 305, and Hinman's Connecticut in the Ameri- 
can Revolution, 31-33. See also Virginia Gazette, July 8, 1775- 

Governor Cu!T tendered his resignation at Hartford, May 11, 1776. The following 
is his farewell address : " I Governor Cuff of the Negro's in the province of Connecticut 
do Resine my Governmentshipe, to John Anderson Niegor Man to Governor Skene. 
And I hope that you will obeye him as you have Done me for this ten years' past, when 
Col. Willis' Niegor Dayed I was the next. But being weak and unfit for that office do 
Resine the said Governmentshipe to John Anderson." 

The governor-elect accepted his appointment in the following terms : 

" I, John Anderson, having the Honour to be appointed Governor over you I will 
do my utmost endevere to serve you in Every Respect, and I hope you will obey me ac- 
cordingly. 

John Anderson, Governor over the Niegors in Connecticut." 

"Pomp Willis," "John Jones," " Fraday," and others, were "Witnesses pres- 
ent." 



The Connecticut Loyalists 285 

endeavoring to join, or endeavoring to persuade or induce others to 
join, aid, comfort, or assist the enemy in any way whatsoever, and 
shall conceal the fact, " he shall be punished by fine, and imprisoned 
at the judgment of the Superior Court, in any gaols of the State, 
not exceeding three years." ' 

It will be seen that it served the personal interest and safety of 
every citizen at this period to become an informer. That few failed 
to act as such is shown in the number and character of the memor- 
ials that came in to the Assembly from nearly every town in the 
state. The people of the shore-towns, especially, were loud in their 
complaints of Loyalists, who would cross to Long Island and return 
in considerable parties to prey upon their respective communities. 2 
To repress this evil, the Assembly resolved that " no person in a 
sea-port town, should under any pretense depart from any port, 
harbor, bay, creek, river, or other place in the State, in any boat, 
skiff, canoe, etc., without a written license from one of the selectmen 
of the town from which he should depart ;" and the various small 
craft were all to be drawn up in some convenient locality. 

The following spring (May 8, 1777) an act still more extensive 
in scope was passed, which decreed that no person should pass 
from town to town (except well-known friendly people and military 
men), without a written permit signed either by a justice of the 
peace, army officer, selectman or committee of inspection, certifying 
where the bearer was going, where he came from, and reputing him 
to be friendly. Every suspect was seized and examined, and, if 
without such a permit, was arrested with or without a warrant and 
brought to trial before a justice of the peace, when, if found guilty, 
he or she was bound over on good behavior, or committed to jail 
until delivered by process of law. All were to aid in capturing such 
persons, or render themselves liable to a fine ; and to prevent any 
evasion of the law, night watches were kept in nearly every town in 
the state, by which all the chief roads and passes were strictly 
guarded. 

1 Public Records of Connecticut (1776-8), I. 4. Mr. R. H. Phelps, in his Newgateof 
Connecticut, 40-41, relates the following incident of Rev. Roger Viets, Episcopal pastor at 
Simsbury : " At midnight some men, who, it afterwards appeared, were eluding pursuit, 
called at his house and asked for charitable aid. Lodging he dare not give them. Food 
he could not refuse. The authorities heard of it, became suspicious, and he was accused. 
He did not deny the charge. He was fined, and condemned to imprisonment in Hart- 
ford jail." But, according to the State Records, Mr. Viets was afterwards released on 
parole ; and he is said to have preached Toryism to the Newgate prisoners. Another 
Loyalist minister, Simon Baxter, also preached ardent sermons at the Newgate mines. 
Cf. Bew' s History of Connecticut, 175. 

2 "A sloop captured (bound to New York) ; carried to Fairfield, with several Tory 
passengers and committed to gaol. Three other vessels captured with 13 absconding 
Tories on board." Connecticut Courant, June 6, 1777. 



286 G. A. Gilbert 

At this same session (May 1777) the legislature passed an Act 
enjoining it upon all freemen to take the " Oath of Fidelity," and 
prescribing its form. 1 No person in Connecticut could hereafter ex- 
ercise any office, civil or military, or vote in any town, society or 
other public meeting legally appointed, or plead in any court (ex- 
cept his own case), until he had taken this oath in open freemen's 
meeting in his own town, administered by a justice of the peace, 
town clerk or the selectmen ; and the names of all freemen were to 
be enrolled. Furthermore, it was enacted (October 1777) that no 
inhabitant of the state, or the United States, who was " inimical," 
or who neglected or refused to take the oath of fidelity, could hold, 
purchase or transfer real estate in Connecticut, without special license 
from the General Assembly ; any other conveyance to be null and 
void. 2 

It was practically impossible in Connecticut for any Loyalist 
literature to obtrude itself before the public eye. In August 1777, 
it was reported that a pamphlet, entitled A Discourse upon Extortion, 
which contained insulting reflections on civil government, was in the 
press at Hartford. As it was soon to be printed and scattered 
among the people, the Assembly ordered a warrant, directing the 
sheriff of Hartford County to seize said pamphlet and all copies 
thereof and deliver them to the state attorney, who was to inspect 
them and pursue advisable measures. 

To dwell further upon legislative enactments of this character, 
would be supererogatory. It must be observed from those already 
cited, that that man was indeed a clever dissembler 3 who could en- 
tertain views inimical to the American cause and escape the wrath 

1 " You, A B , being by the providence of God an inhabitant of this 

State of Connecticut, do swear by the name of the ever-living God, that you will be true 
and faithful to the Governor and Company of this State, and the constitution and govern- 
ment thereof as a free and independent State ; and whensoever you shall be called to give 
your vote or suffrage touching any matter which concerns this State, you shall give it as 
in your conscience you shall judge will conduce to the best good of the same, without re- 
spect of persons or favor of any man : So help you God." Public Records of Connecti- 
cut (1776-8), I. 227. 

''■Public Records of Connecticut (1776-8), I. 227. 

3 A most remarkable case of a " clever dissembler" (recently brought to light) is 
that of an Irish emigrant, "Squire" William Heron of Redding; who served in the 
Connecticut legislature during the war, and at its close returned to his extensive farm 
and lived highly respected among his townsmen until his death. See Todd's Redding, 
198. But, from " A Record of Private Intelligence " (January- July, 1781 ) kept by Sir 
Henry Clinton, it appears that the British chief employed and paid Heron as a trusted 
spy. Cf. Mag. Amer. Hist., X. 503 and XI. 62. It would seem, however, that Heron 
was a double-dyed traitor, and enriched himself by serving as a spy for both sides, often 
bringing secret intelligence to Gen. Parsons and others. Cf. "An Examination of the 
Charge of Treason against Gen. S. H. Parsons," read before the Connecticut Historical 
Society, March 5, 1896, by Joseph G. Woodward ; published in the Year-Book 
(1895-6) of the Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution, 188-210. 



The Connecticut Loyalists 287 

of the Connecticut freemen. In the western part of the state, where 
the Tories were of greater number, they at first attempted some mis- 
chief; but, upon receipt of memorials from several of the towns, 
the Assembly at their October session, in 1776, appointed a com- 
mittee to repair to that section and " arrest all inimical persons and 
send them under proper guard to a place of safety." This was 
subsequently done, and many were taken captive and confined in the 
various towns of the interior. 1 

Tory prisoners were incarcerated in nearly every gaol 2 in the 
colony ; the yards of which, in many instances, were enclosed with 
high fences to ensure greater security. So thorough was the prison 
discipline, and so carefully were the inmates guarded, that few at- 
tempted to make an escape. Massachusetts, New York and New 
Jersey each requested the privilege of sending Tory captives here ; 
and, in the summer of 1776, they began to arrive in large numbers 
(especially from New York). 3 Some of them were the most influ- 
ential of their class in their respective states : among others being 
Governor Franklin 4 of New Jersey, Mayor Matthews of New York 
City, and Dr. Benjamin Church of Watertown, Massachusetts. This 
latter gentleman had been appointed Director of Hospitals for the 
East ; but, being detected afterwards in treacherous correspondence 
with the British at Boston, he was arrested by Washington, under a 
resolve of Congress, and sent to Connecticut. He was confined at 
Norwich (November 1775), "without pen, ink, or paper, and not 
allowed to converse except in English and in presence of a magis- 
trate or sheriff; " but, by an act of the Assembly (March 22, 1776), 
he was allowed to go out of prison (not beyond the parish limits), 

1 " A few days ago a number of Tories from New Milford and other places, v/ere 
committed togaol in Hartford." Connecticut Courant, May 9, 1777. 

2 The principal gaols were at Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon, Litchfield, Farmington, 
Norwich, New London, East Haddam, Preston, Hartford, Durham, Glastonbury, Mid- 
dletown, Wallingford, Saybrook, Windham, Colchester, and the famous Newgate copper 
mines at Simsbury, where, in the summer of 1776, the Tory captives were between thirty 
and forty in number. 

3 The following extracts from the Connecticut Courant indicate the great number of 
New York Loyalists that must have been imprisoned here during that year : " On Friday 
last (28 June, 1776), 49 Tories, taken at Johnstown, N. Y., were brought under guard 
from Albany to Hartford, and others were on the way. ' ' 

Aug. 12, 1776. " Last week from 20 to 30 Tories arrived in Hartford from Al- 
bany, 15 of whom were to be. stationed at New London." 

Aug. 23, 1776. "Three vessels arrived in New London in one week from New 
York, with Tories collected in New York City and Long Island, who were sent into the 
country towns for safety." 

* " Gov. Franklin of New Jersey is on his way to Gov. Trumbull at Lebanon. He 
is a noted Tory and ministerial tool His principles, connexions, abilities and ad- 
dress, have rendered him a dangerous enemy to New Jersey : he is therefore removed 
under a strong guard to Connecticut." Connecticut Cotirant, July 4, 1776. 



288 G A. Gilbert 

once a week, under a proper puard. Governor Franklin was first 
immured in the old gaol at Wallingford ; but at the request of the 
citizens of that town, was afterward (fall of 1776) removed to Mid- 
dletown, and finally to East Windsor. In January (1777) he asked 
permission of the governor and council to go home on parole, as 
many others were doing, promising to give bonds in surety for good 
behavior ; but, owing to the extremity of the situation in New Jer- 
sey at that time, he was not allowed and was so nformed, upon 
which he waxed wroth and subsequently wrote many public com- 
plaints. 

The rigorous guard kept over Dr. Church and Governor Frank- 
lin was doubtless a policy both prudent and proper, since their 
hostile influence, if not limited in this wise, would have resulted in 
downright injury to the American cause. The ascription of Dr. 
Peters, that the Connecticut patriots were a " Puritan mob-ility," is 
the portraiture of a people drawn by an unfriendly hand. When- 
ever leniency could be shown to a Tory captive, without endanger- 
ing the success of the patriot cause, it was done. In July 1776, 
by order of the commissary of prisoners, many were given liberty 
under parole to walk two miles from gaol, but were not allowed to 
go outside of the parish where they were stationed except by a 
written permit. They could occasionally send or receive letters, 
which were first read by the civil authorities. In August 1 776, the 
sheriff of New London county was directed by the legislature, " to 
suffer the New York prisoners at Norwich to take the air one or 
two days each week for their health, under the sheriff's personal at- 
tendance ; and to walk in the gaol-yard in the daytime, at his dis- 
cretion." If in ill health, they were generally removed to a more 
healthful locality. Liberty was often granted, too, at this time 
(August 1 776), for Tory prisoners to go to their homes (properly 
guarded) to get necessary clothing, provided they bore the expense 
of the journey. They were also to sign a parole of honor " not to 
act, do or say anything to obstruct or contravene the measures 
adopted by the American States to preserve freedom." 

As early as the autumn of 1774 — immediately after the town 
meetings had appointed committees of inspection and adopted reso- 
lutions of " contempt and neglect" — a few of the more sensitive of 
the "friends to government," who desired the respect and esteem of 
their neighbors, hastened to retract 1 previous utterances, and, upon 

'The confessions of 25 Tories were accepted in one day at New Milford (November 
2 7> 1775) by the Committee of Inspection of that village. Cf. Hinman, 574. 

The speech and conduct of John Stevens, the proprietor of extensive plantations in 
Ashford, subjected him to suspicion, as well as to an inquisitorial visitation from his 



The Connecticut Loyalists 289 

taking a solemn pledge to stand steadfast for the liberties of the 
people, were welcomed back into the good graces of their fellow 
citizens. Throughout the next two years many " inimicals" of the 
" second class," who had been imprisoned, were released, after having 
signed a full and ample declaration of the justice of the American 
cause, with professions of their friendship to it, and their readiness 
to take up arms in its defense. 

It was not, however, until the summer of the following year 
(1777), that the Loyalists began to repent in a body and were 
admitted into the patriotic fold ; those of the " first class " being 
comprehended, who had been confined and their estates con- 
fiscated, and others who had fled to the enemy. This remarkable 
conversion was owing principally to the following liberal act, passed 
by this Assembly in May, 1777. " Whereas, sundry of the inhabi- 
tants of this State, some from ill advice, others from inadvertence 
and mistaken apprehensions, have absconded and put themselves 
under the protection of the enemies of this and other States of 
America, but are now supposed to be convinced of their error and 
would probably return to their duty, had they assurance of protec- 
tion, Therefore be it resolved," etc. The governor issued a proc- 
lamation assuring pardon of all treason, or misprision of treason, 
to those who (before August 1, 1777) appeared in Connecticut be- 
fore a justice of the peace and took the oath of allegiance, and 
broke off all communication with the enemy, etc. Such persons 
should also be freed from prosecution for their offences. 1 

The following case of John McKee of Norwalk is a fair illustra- 
tion of the manner in which Connecticut treated scores of Loyalists 
at this time, who honestly desired to be restored to their former 
status as freemen of the state and receive the protection of her laws. 
In June 1776, McKee had been convicted of harboring and secret- 
ing some persons who were about to join the enemy. He had been 
sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and to forfeit his estate. At 
the expiration of the year (June 1777), he said that he was con- 
vinced of the iniquity of his conduct ; was now heartily disposed to 
serve the American cause ; and prayed that he be released and his 
estate restored. It was resolved by the legislature " that he return 
to his family and improve his forfeited estate during the pleasure of 

neighbors, which resulted in the subjoined declaration, August 5, 1774. " As I, the 
subscriber, have talked at sundry times against the chartered rights of the colonies, I do 
humbly ask their forgiveness. And I further declare that I never will talk or act any- 
thing against the Sons of Liberty, but do solemnly swear that I am a true Son of Liberty, 
and will remain so during my natural life. In witness whereof I set my hand. John 
Stevens." Larned's Windham County, II. 130. 
1 Public Records, I. 254. 



290 G. A. Gilbert 

the Assembly, on paying such cost as may have accrued since his 
confinement." x 

Ere the close of the war hundreds of Connecticut Loyalists had 
voluntarily made public recantations of past errors ; had taken the 
freemen's oath in open town-meeting ; and, after the payment of 
certain costs, the whole or a part of their forfeited estates had been 
restored. Some, who had early left the colony and remained active 
in the British service throughout, were never pardoned. Nor was 
this through any fault or severity of the General Assembly ; for as 
late as May 1779, " believing that many who had fled to the 
enemy, were convinced of their folly, and desired to be restored 
to the favor of their country," they passed a second liberal act, ex- 
tending the same privileges to "absconding Tories" as had been 
done two years previously. But in this instance, before the gov- 
ernor issued the proclamation of pardon, many of these Loyalists 
had joined and accompanied Gen. Tryon in his infamous raid upon 
the defenceless shore-towns ; in consequence of which the Assembly 
and Council of Safety subsequently voted (August 1779) not to 
issue the proclamation. 3 

The wives and children of this class, however, were treated 
humanely and generously ; the former, whenever it was desired, 
being aided to join their husbands. If this was impracticable, the 
children (if any) were bound out to some respectable family in the 
neighborhood. In some cases, where the lands had been forfeited 
and the goods seized by the selectmen, the widow had one-third of 
the husband's personal property restored to her, and was granted 
the use of one-third of his real estate ; i. e., " to have and enjoy " 
during the pleasure of the General Assembly. 3 

In various towns in the southern and western section of the state 
town-meetings were held by citizens in the latter days of the war, 
and the question put to vote whether any person should be allowed to 
return and dwell in their midst who was previously an inhabitant of 
the town, but had gone over to and assisted the enemy in arms 
against them. This question was invariably resolved in the negative, 
unless such person should first obtain general permission to return. 
Few (especially of those who had been engaged with Tryon) ever 
obtained this permission, 4 and the majority, having lost both their 

1 Public Records, I. 30. The following is an example of the many resolutions of the 
Connecticut Council of Safety. "June 13, 1777. George Follick, of Ridgefield, who 
was committed to the gaol in Hartford, as a Tory, shall be liberated from said prison, by 
paying all the costs and taking the oath of fidelity." 

2 Public Records, II. 279 and 386. 

3 See the case of Mary Hoyt of Danbury in Public Records, I. 299. 

4 Cf. Hurd's Fairfield County, 640, for a similar vote at Ridgefield, August 9, 1779- 
Tories of Ridgefield, who had harbored the British on the occasion of Tryon's raid 



The Connecticut Loyalists 291 

credit and their property at home, eventually found an asylum in 
Nova Scotia or New Brunswick. In after years some of these 
fugitives acknowledged and grievously lamented their mistake in 
having thus sided against their countrymen in the patriotic struggle 
for liberty. 1 

It has been seen that this province was thoroughly competent 
to deal with internal foes ; that, while bloody scenes were enacted 
between Whig and Tory just over her border in the " Neutral 
Ground," she was enabled to prevent even the symptoms of a civil 
war. Though her attitude toward the Loyalists was firm and de- 
cided, it was not vindictive or revengeful. An examination of town 
and state records clearly evidences the fact that the governor and 
Assembly (and generally the freemen, too) were ready and willing 
to pardon the guilty and to accept repentance. As a result of this 
generosity hundreds of that unfortunate class retracted their hostile 
expressions and became loyal citizens, who otherwise would have 
remained hostile to the end. 

G. A. Gilbert. 

to Danbury, were taken by the indignant citizens to the river late at night, and treated to 
a prolonged "ducking." 

1 Munson Jarvis, a prominent Loyalist of Stamford, wrote from St. John, N. B., 
(July 3, 1788), to Rev. Samuel Peters in London : " I have made one great mistake in 
politics, for which reason I never intend to make so 'great a blunder again." Genealogy 
of Jarvis Family, 29. For a curious " Confiscation Deed of Property," see ibid., p. 281.